Riviera Theatre

1135 Meridian Street,
Anderson, IN 46016

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Riviera Theatre

The $150,000 Riviera Theatre opened on November 27, 1919, Thanksgiving Day. The opening movie was Elsie Janis in “A Regular Girl”. The 1,000-seat fire-proof theatre, owned by bankers Neal McCullough and Fred Mustard, was designed by local Anderson architect, Ernest Watkins. The theatre was equipped with an organ which was opened by organist Prof. L.A. Huff. There was a 10-piece orchestra. It had a soda & tea-room that was decorated in a Chinese style. The ceiling of the auditorium was painted in Delft blue and featured painted cloud effects.

By 1927 McCullough & Mustard, through their subsidiary M&M Realty Company, were operating the Riviera Theatre, Starland Theatre & Granada Theatre, all in Anderson. In March 1927 M&M sold the three theatres for $250,000 to Col. Fred Levy, Lee Goldberg and Sam & Harry Switow (dba Anderson Realty Company). McCullough, Levy, Goldberg & the Switow’s incorporated Anderson Theatrical Enterprises Corporation in March 1927 and began operating the Riviera Theatre, Starland Theatre and Granada Theatre on March 20, 1927. During 1927 a Wurlitzer organ (Opus 1806) was installed. In October 1927 Anderson Theatres Corporation, owned by Levy, Goldberg & Leo Keiler, all of Louisville, KY, acquired the Riviera, Starland & Granada and affiliated with Principal Theatres Corporation, forming the West Coast circuit’s first group of Eastern theatres.

In January 1929, a Principal advertisement boasted that “improved Vitaphone and Movietone will soon be installed at the Riviera Theatre - "the only theatre in Anderson to receive this complete sound equipment”.

In January 1930 Publix took possession of the Riviera, Starland & Granada, leasing them from Principal. Publix assumed active management on January 11, 1930, though the deal was effective six days earlier. In the Publix fold the Riviera became a C house, behind the top-tier State Theatre and second-tier Paramount Theatre. The Riviera Theatre was closed on December 27, 1931, after Publix reopened the larger Paramount Theatre, shuttered since May 31, 1930. Publix ceased theatre operations in Anderson on July 1, 1932. Anderson Theatrical Company (Harry Switow) reopened the Riviera Theatre on October 8, 1932, though Film Daily Yearbooks show Principal again operating the Riviera Theatre from 1932 into 1949.

The Riviera Theatre started carrying the Aliance Theatres badge in newspaper advertisements starting in late-January 1949. Alliance Theater Corp. still operated the theatre in 1958. In June 1969 Cinecom acquired five Anderson theatres, including the Riviera Theatre, which the Anderson Herald said had been “closed as a movie house since the 1950’s”. Cinecom reopened the long-mothballed Riviera Theatre from May 29, 1970 until April 25, 1971. In February 1974 Anthony Mallers acquired the Riviera Theatre from S.J. Gregory Enterprises, which formally owned Alliance. Mallers Theaters reopened the Riviera Theatre and operated it until the roof fell in on August 27, 1978. According to the Anderson Herald, the Riviera Theatre was demolished in 1982.

Contributed by Ken Roe, Dave Novak

Recent comments (view all 5 comments)

AndrewBarrett on January 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Is this theatre building still standing? Are there any photos of it, and/or does someone have a street address showing where it was located? Thanks!

According to “The Encyclopedia of the American Theatre Organ” by Mr. David Junchen, pg. 629, the “Riviera Th.” in Anderson, Indiana originally had a Smith theatre pipe organ installed at some point.

No further details, such as size of the organ (# of manuals / # of ranks), install date, blower info, or nameplate (Seeburg-Smith, Smith, Smith-Geneva) are given in the book (not known at the time of publication).

Does anybody know what happened to this organ and where it (or its parts) is/are today? Thanks!

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on July 18, 2016 at 11:51 am

The Riviera burnt down. The organ probably went with it.

vicsable on September 24, 2017 at 11:14 pm


To the best of my knowledge The Riviera suffered a roof collapse and ultimately was demolished as the photo states. I recall my father taking me there sometime before the collapse to watch the 10th anniversary of Disney’s “The Jungle Book” (Late 1977, I was four at the time). Here is my proof via this link:


As far as the organ, I am not certain of its fate.

I hope this helps.

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